Islamic republic dismisses MEP
accusations of freedom of speech restrictions and call for executions
reacted angrily to a European parliament resolution calling on
diplomats to shine a spotlight on human rights in their negotiations
with Tehran as part of a new strategy towards the country.
Iran's foreign ministry summoned the Greek ambassador on Sunday in
protest at the resolution, passed
by MEPs in a plenary session last week
, which condemned the
Islamic republic's record for "continued, systematic violation
of fundamental rights". Greece currently holds the rotating
presidency of the EU.
Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who spoke to members of the
Iranian parliament Majlis at the weekend, dismissed it and said the
EU parliament was "not in a position, nor has the moral
authority" to take such measures against his country.
The new resolution called for the EU "to mainstream human
rights in all aspects of its relations with Iran" and asked
European diplomats to make sure that "a high-level and inclusive
human rights dialogue with Iran should be part of the future policy
framework for bilateral EU–Iran" ties. It condemned the
restrictions on freedom of speech and urged Tehran,
along with Iraq accounted for more than two-thirds of the world's
executions last year
to declare a moratorium on the death
penalty. The resolution reflects the parliament's view but does not
have legislative force.
EU parliamentary delegations planning to visit Iran are also asked
to hold meetings with members of the Iranian opposition including
political prisoners and civil society activists. Last month,
Catherine Ashton particularly infuriated Iranians when
she met six women's rights activists in Tehran
during her first
visit to Iran as the EU foreign policy chief.
The new resolution has come ahead of a new round of talks between
Iran and six world powers on a comprehensive agreement that could
potentially settle a decades-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear
programme. Negotiations are due to kick off in Vienna on Tuesday.
Ashton, who acts as a convenor for the six world powers in the
nuclear talks, came under attack for raising human rights concerns in
Tehran but enjoys relative leeway among Iranians in comparison to
other western politicians after she brokered the interim nuclear deal
with Iran last year.
In his comments to Iranian MPs, Zarif said Tehran could not accept
EU's "conditions" and will block any visit to Iran meant to
happen under the resolution's criteria. The foreign minister also
said the human rights accusations were fabricated by groups close to
Last week's resolution commended President Hassan Rouhani's
administration for a series of improvements on human rights,
including the release of prominent lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, but called
on the Iranian authorities to release all remaining prisoners of
conscience including trade unionists, labour activists and those
jailed after the disputed presidential election in 2009. The EU also
urged Tehran to allow the UN special rapporteur for the situation of
human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit the country.
On the nuclear issue, the European parliament welcomed the interim
agreement, sealed last year in Geneva, and called on all parties "to
engage constructively in the negotiating process so that the final
comprehensive agreement can be concluded within the agreed time
A number of senior Iranian officials echoed Zarif in dismissing
the EU's decision, interpreting it as meddling in Iranian internal
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to the Iranian supreme
leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it was a "pressure tool"
and accusations were groundless, according to the state-run Press TV.
"These kinds of unjust and groundless judgments are of no value
to the Iranian nation," he said.
Ali Larijani, the speaker of Majlis, said the EU resolution was
"As a matter of fact, this resolution is nothing more than a
political statement in terms of the method used for compiling the
contents to show the European parliament's symbolic position, which
has no executive power," he said, according to the semi-official
Fars news agency. The foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham,
also called it "unfounded and unacceptable", Fars said.
A group of Iranian MPs said they would retaliate by passing a bill
requiring the government to take fingerprints of any EU delegation
visiting Tehran. Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, the Friday's prayer
imam, accused the EU of spreading "homosexuality" after the
resolution slammed Iran for discrimination on the basis of sexual